Dec 20, 2012

Ngoma Awards Winners

The good folks at C1rca1964 have been working to compile the list of winners for the 2012 Ngoma Awards which were held last night in Lusaka. Here's part I. 


CONTEMPORARY MUSIC CATEGORY

I. CHAMPION BANDA AWARD FOR BEST BAND
Air Power Band

II. THE EMMANUEL MULEMENA AWARD FOR THE BEST MALE PERFORMER
Exile

III. THE JOYCE NYIRONGO AWARD FOR THE BEST FEMALE PERFORMER
Towera Nyirongo

IV. THE ALICK NKHATA AWARD FOR THE BEST VOCAL RECORDING

Ephraim Matalange

V. THE MELLIS AWARD FOR THE BEST CHORAL GROUP

Peace Preachers, Lusaka

VI. THE MOST PROMISING UPCOMING PERFORMER

Sydney D Capitan

CHAIRMANS AWARD

The following artists who are either Zambian or of Zambian descent have been nominated by Zambians living abroad, through UKZambians and C1rca1964.

MUSIC
Emeli Sande (music) - UK

FILM
Daniel Chirwa

VISUAL ARTS
Emily Kirby – UK

LITERARY
Ellen Banda- Aaku - UK

VISUAL ARTS CATEGORY

I. THE MARTIN PHIRI AWARD FOR THE BEST THREE DIMENSIONAL ARTIST
Sydney Siansangu

II. THE AKWILA SIMPASA AWARD FOR THE BEST UP-COMING ARTIST
Masiku M. Mabvuto

III. THE JULIA MALUNGA AWARD FOR THE BEST FEMALE ARTIST

Nukwase Tembo

IV. THE HENRY TAYALI AWARD FOR THE BEST TWO-DIMENSIONAL ARTIST
Lombe Nsama

MEDIA ARTS CATEGORY

I. THE BEST SHORT FILM
Kayombo by Sanctuary Motion Pictures

II. THE BEST FEATURE FILM
Kawanu by Preston Mwila

III. THE BEST SOAP PRODUCTION
3) Ulendo by ZNBC TV2

CREATIVE WRITING CATEGORY

II. THE JULIUS CHONGO AWARD FOR THE BEST FICTION WRITER
Jonas Mumba ‘Shattered Dreams’

III. THE KWALEYELA IKAFA AWRD FOR THE BEST DRAMA SCRIPT
Mazuba Mwiinga ‘The Ultimate Nightmare’

DRAMA CATEGORY

I. THE JUBILEE MULENGA AWARD FOR BEST ACTRESS

Mirriam Zulu as Jennifer in Blood Ties by NAPSA Theatre Club

II. THE HAGGAI CHISULO AWARD FOR THE BEST ACTOR

Evans Nkoya as Batwell Gondwe in Blood Ties, by NAPSA Theatre

THE EDWIN MANDA AWARD FOR THE BEST PRODUCTION

Blood Ties by NAPSA Theatre Club

IV. THE DAVID WALLACE AWARD FOR THE BEST DIRECTOR

2) Bright Banda for directing Blood Ties by NAPSA Theatre Club

Dec 4, 2012

Zambia: We're rich, yet we're poor

 “Why Poverty” is a series of eight documentaries about poverty and is airing on various networks around the world. Last week, part three titled “Stealing Africa” aired and provoked a lot of discussion. The subject centres on Zambia’s copper industry – how the mines were sold, the tax evasion practices employed by multinationals such as Glencore, our government’s continued inability to put in place a tax regime that allows Zambia to retain a fair share of the wealth being extracted from the minerals in our country and so forth.

This is a worthwhile watch for everyone. There’s really no earth shattering news for anyone who knows what’s been happening in Zambia but it does beg the question, what are we going to do with this knowledge? 

National Arts Council Calendar

If you’re interested in the various events on the National Arts Council of Zambia’s radar for the remainder of 2012, please see the information below.

Dec 3, 2012

Ngoma Chairman's Award Nominees


CHAIRMAN’S AWARD NOMINEES

Here are the finalists as announced by the National Arts Council of Zambia for the Chairman’s Award. The criteria, “a Zambian in Diaspora; man or woman of Zambian descent who has attained outstanding achievements in the arts sector in their country of residence or further.”


MUSIC
Emeli Sande (music) - UK
Hilary Mwelwa (music) - UK
Bina Nkwazi (music) - Finland
Ken Simuyemba (music) – Norway
Samantha Mumba – Ireland
Robert Mwamba - US
Mainza Kangombe (Eight7)

FILM
Rungano Nyoni (Zambian filmmaker) – UK
Daniel Chirwa

VISUAL ARTS
Charles Sambono (visual arts) – Switzerland
Emily Kirby – UK
Njalikwa Chongwe - Australia

LITERARY
Namwali Serpell (writer) - US
Dambisa Moyo (writer) UK
Ellen Banda- Aaku - UK

For details on all other nomination categories in the 2012 Ngoma Awards, do visit their Facebook Page.


Nov 24, 2012

Ngoma Awards 2012



The Ngoma Awards are back!
The 15th Annual Ngoma Awards which are designed to recognise artistes in creative writing, visual arts, theatre and media arts are slated on Wednesday, 19th December, 2012. The awards which are hosted by the National Arts council of Zambia (NAC) and sponsored by Zambian Breweries are back after a two year hiatus.

This year in the category of the Chairman’s Award there is an opportunity for Zambians in Diaspora who have attained outstanding achievement in the arts, in film, music, literature, visual arts, theater, dance, acting to be honoured.
The criteria is as follows:

“A Zambian in Diaspora; man or woman of Zambian descent who has attained outstanding achievements in the arts sector in their country of residence or further.”

Nomination Categories:

Literary arts- Poetry | Literature (Fact/Fiction)
Visual Arts – drawing | architecture | sculpting | photography | Fashion
Theatre & Media Arts – Film | Theatre
Contemporary Music
Traditional Music & Dance

The period of qualification is from November 2011 to November 2012. Qualifying works need to have been created/produced/released during this period.

The Nomination period close date is Tuesday 27th November 2012       

You can submit your nominations via email to: c1rca1964z {at} gmail {dot} com

On Wednesday 29th November the Awards Nomination party will be held at LIV Club in Lusaka. From 18 hrs -21 hrs.

All nominees shall be announced, along with announcement of planned performers at the awards, details of the event, etc.


Nov 23, 2012

Mulenga's Hole in the Wall


If you are interested in Zambian art – paintings, sculptures, exhibitions, and so forth I highly recommend that you follow Andrew Mulenga’s blog. Andrew writes a weekly column in The Post newspaper, ‘Mulenga’s Hole in the Wall’ and has an unwavering dedication to highlighting art and entertainment. He is also the current holder of the 2012 CNN Journalist Arts and Culture award.

I’ve been reading his blog for some time now and it dawned on me that I hadn’t given him a deserved shout out. I appreciate his work introducing many artists to readers and art enthusiasts across the world.

You can find his blog here

Nov 22, 2012

On 1st Ladies and Budgets



There’s a debate raging among Zambians about parliament’s recent decision to allocate K1.5b (US $285,709) in the 2013 budget to the office of the First Lady. The first bone of contention is that there is no official office for the First Lady under the Zambian constitution. All previous presidents’ spouses have undertaken various charitable initiatives but at no point has there been specific budget allocation for these activities.

The current government has argued that they are trying to be transparent because money has been spent in the past just not in the open as they are doing by going through parliament to get the budgetary authority. While I commend them for bringing the issue for discussion, I am not entirely sure why this isn’t coupled with a proposal to make the office an official one. It seems to the rational thing to do in my mind.

How can you ask the people of Zambia to fork over K1.5b to the president’s spouse when we don’t know how the money will be spent, who will approve and audit the expenditures, who are accountable for any misuse, and so forth? I understand the role of a president’s spouse isn’t merely one of a host(ess) in this day and age. Many are involved in projects locally and regionally which require funding for travel but as I understand it these expenses are typically covered by the funds allocated to State House annually. Why the additional funds?

I have vacillated back and forth about an official office for the president’s spouse. I’m against it because when I think about it almost all the goodwill activities undertaken by this person often complement and run parallel to work being done by a specific ministry, government agency or non-governmental organisation. It doesn’t make sense to replicate services when this ‘office’ does not have a clear mandate.

Furthermore, we’ve also seen how charitable activities undertaken by first ladies are used as tools for political purposes. Example: in the build up to a bye-election the organisation and its famous patron are seen handing out food, medicines, bicycles, etc and when the politicians swoop in to campaign the voters are primed and ready to repay the goodwill with their “YES” vote at the polls.

So, do we want to further institutionalize patronage using money that could otherwise be spent on services that benefit a larger portion of the population? My answer is no though I am willing to hear contrary arguments. 

Nov 21, 2012

Youth Participation and Leadership pt. III

This past Saturday concluded our series on Youth Participation and Leadership. In a two hour long special we interview the president of the National Restoration Party, Mr Elias Chipimo Jr. Mr Chipimo is a trained lawyer and aspiring president of Zambia; he has spoken a lot about the need for youth inclusion in Zambia’s society.

This interview gave us the opportunity to learn more about his ideas for youth employment and empowerment among other issues. It was a thoroughly enjoyable discussion with him, and has generated a lot of buzz. As a result of the feedback we've received thus far, Mr Chipimo has graciously agreed to respond to follow up questions, so if you have any after listening please feel free to send those to me. You can do so in the comments box below. 

Happy listening.  

Nov 16, 2012

Youth Participation and Leadership pt. II

In the second part of our Youth Participation and Leadership series, we focused on how to take great ideas shared on our social media platforms, blogs, email strings, etc to the “real world” and start working to implement them. This was a lively 2-hour conversation, I hope you enjoy it. 



Youth Participation and Leadership pt. I

This month on Zambia Blog Talk Radio I’m hosting a 3-part series on Youth Participation and Leadership. The idea for this came after multiple ongoing conversations among my peers and I with regard to what we can do to effect change in our respective countries. This is not centred on the political sphere which usually gets the lion’s share of attention. This is about what we can do be better citizens and workers in all areas be it as teachers, caregivers, writers, engineers, etc.

I’ve been lucky to have a great co-host, Jonah Banda, who has helped steer the conversation as well as other contributors who’ve taken the time to call in, send me tweets, and emails.

Here’s the audio for part 1. 



Oct 29, 2012

Staying on course


"The best kinds of people to surround yourself with are those whose challenging questions make you squirm and check yourself.
 If you don’t have a mentor, find one.
If you don’t have friends who keep you honest, find them.
If you keep focusing on so-called haters and not your goals, check yourself.

Each and every one of us works harder when surrounded by people who motivate you. I am not talking about people who will simply soothe your ego by never questioning your actions and instead inflate your inner Napoleon. The people you want are those with whom you can share ideas and who are empowered to tell you honestly when you’ve veered off the path or even when you need a gentle tug to get you moving.

This has been my mantra for some time now and I cannot count the number of times my frustrations have been alleviated by someone who took the time to ask me – “what’s going on with x project?” It's sometimes scary when you put yourself there, where people notice your work and can provide feedback, however, when it's from the right people it can spur personal growth. And who would say no to that?

To my team, I thank you!

Oct 24, 2012

48 years later

Today marks the 48th anniversary of Zambia’s independence from Great Britain. I usually spend the build up to this day reflecting on the multitude of men and women who sacrificed one thing or another to make it possible for me and millions of others to be born in a free Zambia.

This time last year I focused some of my blog posts to highlight the work done by women freedom fighters, as they often unsung heroes in the retelling of our nationalist struggle. I remain in awe of these women and their male counterparts who stepped forward for a fight they believed to be justified.

I am eternally grateful that the struggle for Zambia was not drawn out and bloody; this I believe remains a cornerstone for the long lasting peace we continue to enjoy today.

The declaration on October 24, 1964 was just the first step. We must work daily to actualize the promises and hopes uttered on that day. 

Sep 28, 2012

Are these the winds of change?

This week with most world leaders converging on New York for the 67th UN General Assembly, the news has been awash with various speeches made, awards given, and so forth. Of note, has been the attention given to three powerful African leaders – Presidents Joyce Banda and Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, and AU Commission Chair Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

The three have been lauded in various fora for their rise to the top, and as such we’re hearing the requisite buzz that the winds of change are blowing across Africa, and this is indeed the century of the African woman. I’m much more familiar with President Banda’s story because I’ve followed her more keenly over the last few years, and her rise is quite admirable.

For young women such as I seeing women in positions of leadership that have been historically denied us, I’m filled with pride and even more resolve to break my own glass ceilings. With that said, I’m also cognizant of the fact that having a handful of women in high profile positions means little as long as the structures on the route up remain the same, built to promote and sustain male privilege.

Real winds of change will blow when the women who make up the majority of our nations’ populations and electorate start to realise their own upward mobility. When we finally start taking tangible steps towards equal pay for equal work, negligible rates of infant and maternal mortality, greater access to quality health care, equitable inheritance laws for men and women, women moving from being property to partners, and so forth, the story won’t be about a only handful of women who’ve risen up. That’s the critical mass we need.

There’s much work to be done, and we cannot afford to get stuck singing praise songs for the trailblazers and thinking that’s the pinnacle of our rise. 

Sep 17, 2012

Woman, sit down!

In the last few weeks there has been a war of words between opposition leaders Hakainde Hichilema (UPND) and Edith Nawakwi (FDD) and this has largely been played out in the media. Sadly the issues they are fighting about do little to elevate public discourse in Zambia; instead we have two adults fighting in a pig pen, slinging handfuls of manure at each other much to the chagrin of many. If the leaders of two political parties spend this much time calling each other all kinds of names, what time do they have to provide checks and balances to the party currently in government?

Last week marked an ugly turn when Mr. Hichilema said of Ms. Nawakwi:
“Kamukazi kaja sikanakambe vilivonse. Nili namukazi, niwambili wameneuyu  Uyu mukazi anyanya. (That little girl did not say anything. My wife is enough for me. This woman is too much.) Please if you (Nawakwi) have run out of what to cook in the kitchen, go and look for something at the market." 
This was in response to remarks made by Ms. Nawakwi in which she accused him of being selfish, egotistical and difficult to work with in any opposition alliance. She also charged that he has a “singular belief that he is better than anyone else in the leadership of this country as far as his leadership concerned.”

Now Mr. Hichilema has every right to defend himself in the face of this, however, he crossed the line by his choice of words in which he refers to Ms. Nawakwi as a “little girl” and as someone who should be in kitchen or at the market shopping for foodstuffs. This type of sexist and demeaning language is deplorable, and should not be tolerated or defended.

This language reinforces gender stereotypes and normalises violent behaviour against women. Our words often reflect our belief systems and when a public figure like Hichilema makes such statements it’s quite indicative of how he feels about women in the public sphere – “shut up, and go back to the kitchen where you belong.”

This is also not the first time he has been caught making negative references to women. In 2006 he accused a former ally of “being a woman” for “running away” from an alliance. The implications of the remark were obvious; he views women as cowards and to call another man a woman was an insult.

If Hichilema wants to position himself as a future president of Zambia he needs to check himself before he wrecks himself. By virtue of him being a public figure means he is subject to both men and women talking about him, and if he doesn’t particularly like the opinions of women perhaps he should resign his position and find other things to do with his time and money.

Let me also be clear that I do not agree with Nawakwi's counter that Hichilema is a "male chauvanist pig." By calling him a pig we're back to square one of name calling instead of bringing the focus back to the problematic sexism inherent in his initial response. 

Do not doubt the power of words and the violence they can easily spark. Yesterday it was reported that former UPND national youth chairman, Joe Kalusa, had vowed to rally the party's youth on the Copperbelt to gang rape Ms. Nawakwi "to teach her to respect married men like Hakaine Hichilema." Twenty-four hours later and not a single person from UPND has repudiated these remarks including Mr. Hichilema himself.

Unfortunately this is not the first time we have seen threats of rape against a public figure such as Ms. Nawakwi for what ruffians deem as disrespect. Even sadder, the subsequent silence is yet another repeat of history. But not to worry, there are enough of us out there disgusted by it all, and we will not be silenced. The backlash against Hichilema and UPND will not go unnoticed.   

Sep 5, 2012

More irresponsible press

Over the weekend it was announced on local television that a terrorist group called “Tongas under Oath” had sent a letter to the Minister of Home Affairs and the Police Inspector General announcing that they were a group representing the Tonga people of Zambia’s southern province and had the following demands:

1.    That all Bemba speaking people living in the province leave immediately or face death like three unfortunate compatriots who they claimed to have recently killed
2.    That the districts of Chirundu and Itezhi-Tezhi be realigned with Southern province (as they were recently moved to fall under Lusaka province).

The part that grabbed most of our attention was the first point – the immediate self-removal of Bembas or face the prospect of death by poisoning. The desired effect was immediately felt when folks with a penchant for shooting their mouths off on Facebook did so by demanding the government send the military to crush the so-called rebellion.

On Monday morning state-run newspapers also ran the story further fuelling debate on the issue. People wanted to know who was behind this terrorist group threatening the peace and security of our nation by sowing seeds of ethnic hatred.

Now, one of the first things that struck me as odd about this story from the very beginning was the source of the purported letter – the Ministry of Home Affairs. It seemed rather reckless that they would choose to share this letter with the state-run broadcaster before the country’s security wings had the opportunity to launch an investigation. Furthermore, the language attributed to the authors was too phony. Why would a terrorist group make available their mailing address? And what kind of poison were they using on their victims that led to the claim that they “would die sooner or later.” This was all amateurish indeed.

I was extremely disappointed that the news editors of Times of Zambia and Zambia Daily Mail chose to print a story that was completely single sourced. They didn’t fact check a single aspect of what was contained in that letter. They have followed this up by printing updates from Zambia Police spokesperson who reports “they are making progress” in tracking down the perpetrators. If it wasn’t a sad indictment on the inefficiencies rampant in our public institutions I would laugh and keep moving.

However, when it’s an issue that has the potential to raise the ugly spectre of xenophobia, it’s no laughing matter. And shame on those trying to capitalise on people’s fears and prejudices. Thank goodness there have been many sensible voices that have raised the same concerns I have, and refuse to get caught up in this poor ploy.

We need to remain vigilant. Pity our media houses make this work even harder by allowing themselves to be pawns as opposed to being agents of truth. 

Aug 27, 2012

Easy living, pampered women!

WOE betide all poor parents of boys! A new and worse form of gender discrimination has emerged that is heaping attention on the girl-child and completely shutting out the boy-child in empowerment programmes. Is your household crawling with boys like mine? I pity you, unless you are a businessperson or one of those lucky workers earning a seven-zero net monthly salary.
The above is the opening paragraph in a piece that was published in the Sunday edition of Zambia Daily Mail on August 26, 2012. This lovely piece was authored by the deputy news editor, Charles Chishala. Chishala spends approximately 1,200 words lambasting initiatives targeted at achieving gender parity in Zambia’s education because this is a form of “pampering and spoiling girls” at the expense of boys. You can read the full article here.

Chishala further challenges “girl pampering NGOs and other institutions to produce gender disaggregated baseline information on which they have been basing their gender discrimination against the boys.” Apparently we are just puppets for a western-driven agenda.

To say I was vexed while reading this article is a gross understatement. Appalled and angry is a more accurate description because this article was published by a national newspaper by an editor clearly out of touch with the realities of gender inequality and how this affects not only women and girls but society as a whole. In framing this as an “us v. them” argument, he exemplifies the very reason why the fight for gender equality exists in the first place.  

It’s interesting that Chishala at no point acknowledges that many Zambian girls are often denied their right to education. Even in an age where school fees are abolished for Grades 1 - 7, the indirect costs such as clothing, sanitation, safety, and transportation present substantial barriers to access.

Furthermore, studies done in Zambia show that “girls spend more time on productive work than any group of adult men (Allen 1998). Thus the opportunity costs – in terms of lost household labour – of sending girls to school are extremely high.” The incentives for keeping girls at home are reinforced when the quality of education is poor, fees are high, the learning environment is unsafe or lacking, and the likelihood of completing secondary school is low.

Is helping remove said barriers and ensuring that more girls are able to realise their right to an education, which has a direct impact on their social, political and economic rights a means of pampering and spoiling them? Hardly! And the charge that most girls are only interested in “easy living” is extremely belittling and insulting. 

There is no easy living when you're sent off to marriage soon after puberty and start having children before your body has matured. There is no easy living when you have no capacity to speak for yourself due to the disempowerment that comes with the lack of independence.

Let’s get to the numbers; Chisala asked, and he shall receive. Below are figures provided by the Ministry of Education showing indicators in primary education:




From the data above we have clear indications that net enrollment for both girls and boys is improving steadily. This counters Chishala’s wholesale argument that the improved access for girls is being done at the expense of boys. There is more work to be done in improving access to primary and secondary education for all children in all areas of Zambia, as well as improving the quality of education.

There is no new social order in which women are on top of the proverbial food chain. It’s hard enough convincing some families that both girls and boys are of equal value, without having to deal with heretics like Chishala who are screaming that the sky is falling.

The only resentment being spawn about this changing world is within Chishala and his ilk who clearly resent the fact that women can be more than vessels to carry their progeny; and that through many years of struggle many women and girls are realising their dreams of being equal partners in our human development.

I feel shame when Chishala states that achieving gender parity is a “recipe for perpetuating gender based violence” as marginalised boys/men act out their frustration. It is clear he perceives gender equality as a threat to his privilege and way of life. In such a context this loss of power may be a catalyst for violence. Pity he cannot see himself as a potential agent of change.

As a society we must look out for the inequalities and barriers to education that face all children. We cannot ignore the different needs and capacities of women, girls, men and boys, as we all have a role to play. This perhaps was the point Chishala set out to make but instead we were on the receiving end of an anti-women rant. We are allies not enemies.

Aug 8, 2012

Reaping what is sown



On Monday morning the last of Zambia’s athletes competing in the 2012 London games failed to progress to the next round of competition in his field, men’s 800m. Of the seven athletes who had the honour of representing Zambia, only one, Gerald Phiri, made it out of the preliminary rounds to the semis.

Some have bemoaned this as disappointing but I’m of a different mind. Zambia does not and has not prioritized investments in sports outside of the men’s national football team; even there we could debate the issue. We cannot expect too much from the participants since we lack facilities of international standards for training.

If you look across the landscape, at the grassroots it is primarily in private schools that students still receive lessons in varied sports like field hockey, tennis, swimming, basketball, volleyball, rounders, etc.   

With the financial pinch in government schools Physical Education (PE) is a distant memory. Outdoor activity is restricted to play only (which has its own benefits, of course) but gaining any sort of sports proficiency is seriously hampered due to the lack of instruction.

Even further many community clubs that once boasted immaculate bowling greens, tennis courts, squash courts and swimming pools have largely fallen into disrepair. Growing up I remember going to the Lusaka Club on a fairly regular basis with my family, and it’s there I fine-tuned my tennis game and my father his snooker. Granted neither of us was world class but the point is we had a place to hone our skills. The club still exists but during my last visit it was clear times were indeed tough.

Making the necessary investments in sports is not a responsibility to be borne solely by local and national government; though they have a large piece to fulfill when it comes to school curriculum and providing funds for coaches and equipment. As the larger community we can make our contributions by helping community clubs/centres become vibrant again through corporate and private sponsorship, annual dues, etc.  

These clubs once served as a pillar in our communities not just as a social gathering place but a place where young and old could get involved and stay involved in an activity, and where various sports teams practiced and hosted tournaments. In a nutshell they also served as sports development centres.    

And for those individuals with the capacity to advance in their chosen sport, coaching to international standards is key. Coaching is not restricted to technical skills only, but includes diet, mental preparation, weight lifting, etc. Quality coaches don’t just fall out of the sky. Harnessing our own local talent should be a top goal.  

Without this dedication and focus not much will change for Zambians wishing to make an impact on the international stage be it the Olympics, Commonwealth Games or Diamond League events. Of course they will be those with the hunger to succeed who will beat the odds and I salute them. 

Aug 2, 2012

Deficiencies in reporting

Over the last few months Zambia’s Registrar of Societies, Clement Andeleki, has become something of a superstar. He vaulted to fame this past March when he de-registered the former ruling party MMD for non-payment of fees dating back to 1993. This de-registration put at risk the 53 parliamentary seats the party held at the time. The issue has since been taken to court.

Before I continue "societies" are any club, company, partnership or other associations of ten or more persons, whatever its nature or object. This does not include companies registered under the Companies Act, Trade Unions registered under the provisions of the Industrial and Labour Relations Act or co-operative societies registered under the provisions of the Co-operative Societies Act. 

Since March Andeleki has held one press briefing after another updating the public on other societies that are in danger of being de-registered; most are high profile societies such as the Press Association of Zambia. It’s all quite interesting.

What caught my attention yesterday is the recent deregistration of a local church based in Lusaka. This particular church is not exactly one of the bastions most Lusaka residents know about because of their large congregations, expensive buildings or super flamboyant pastors. Rather, this church has recently been in the news because its Bishop has been linked to the murder of a young college student.

Registrar Andeleki announced that the church was being deregistered because of the criminal investigation of the Bishop, and the church should use this as an opportunity to “prove their innocence.” When I read this I was struck by how improper it all sounded, and subsequently went looking for the statutory language which pertains to Societies.

A few clicks later I had at my fingertips the Societies Act Chapter 119 of the Laws of Zambia, and familiarized myself with the provisions that allow the Registrar to cancel registration of any society. And as I suspected under section 13 “Cancellation of registration” there is no mention that alleged crimes committed by leaders or members could be used as grounds for deregistration.

Now, I stand to be corrected in case I missed something in my reading of this law. With that said, I’m thoroughly disappointed that the handful of media outlets that carried this story made no mention of the clause the Registrar used to arrive at his decision. Did anyone ask the question at the media briefing, or were they simply there to write down his statements verbatim without questioning his rationale?

Surely issues such as this need greater probing to ensure that the letter of the law is being followed and groups aren’t being unfairly targeted by overzealous government officials? It is my hope that the aggrieved Mount Zion Spiritual Church seeks legal advice and appeals this decision because from what I can see, this was a poorly thought out decision with unfortunate consequences for church members. 

Aug 1, 2012

Sharing information


As a result of the Zambian draft constitution radio series I recently hosted, I have been approached by various people to share audio, notes, etc. This has been gratifying because I’m happy to see people interested in the public review process and gathering their own thoughts on the various provisions, after all this was my original intent.

This sharing of information and ideas is critical, in my opinion, because it allows us to debate divergent views and come to an understanding of what we as Zambians feel to be the most important issues that should be enshrined in our constitution, be it gender equality or better defined powers in the executive.

It has always been my view that such participation is incumbent upon us as citizens; we cannot continue to sit back relying on others to feed us information and to dictate the dialogue. We have enough past, sad experience that shows what happens in the absence of our active participation.

Beyond this particular issue, there is a bevy of other areas that require open dialogue, sober minded analysis and suggested alternatives. We need to keep on sharing information and arguing constructively regardless of our political leanings; politics are too often front and centre and act as a distraction to meaningful progress.

This is perfectly exemplified when one peruses the daily headlines that are mostly dedicated to inane subjects of “this person insulted the president,” or “the president hits back.” These are not the issues that matter to most of us, and since many media houses continue to fail in their responsibility to report thoroughly and objectively, we have to get creative and lead intelligent discovery and debate of issues. Let them follow our lead.

Zambia’s future should not be driven by a short sighted minority who cannot look beyond what food is on the plate in front of them. We are so much better than that; let the silent majority be silent no more.

Jul 11, 2012

Constitution Review: Part V

This Saturday, July 14  will be the conclusion of our 5-part series on the Zambian Constitution discussion. These are the following provisions on the agenda:


July 14
PART VI
REPRESENTATION OF THE PEOPLE
Electoral Systems and Process

Article 88 Legislation on political parties

88. Parliament shall enact legislation to provide for- (a) the roles and functions of political parties in a multi-party democracy;

(b) the registration and de-registration of political parties;

(c) the establishment and management of a Political Parties’ Fund which shall provide financial support to political parties with seats in the National Assembly;

(d) the limit of money to be used for campaigns during elections;

(e) the accounts and audit of political parties which are funded under the Political Parties’ Fund;

(f) the submission of audited accounts as may be prescribed by an Act of Parliament;

(g) the sources of funds for political parties;

(h) restrictions on the use of public resources to promote the interests of political parties and their candidates; and

(i) any other matter necessary for the management and regulation of political parties in a multi-party democracy.

PART VII
EXECUTIVE
Executive Power

Article 97 Election of President

97. (1) A person qualifies to be nominated as candidate for election as President if that person - (a) is a citizen by birth or descent;

(b) does not have dual citizenship;

(c) has been ordinarily resident in Zambia;

(d) is not less than thirty-five years of age;

(e) has obtained, as a minimum academic qualification, a grade twelve certificate or its equivalent;

(f) is conversant with the official language;

(g) does not have a mental disability that would make the person incapable of performing the executive functions;

(h) is not an undischarged bankrupt;

(i) is not serving a sentence of imprisonment;

(j) has not, in the immediate preceding five years, served a term of imprisonment for at least three years;

(k) has paid that person’s taxes or has made arrangements, satisfactory to the appropriate tax authority, for the payment of the taxes; or

(l) declares that person’s assets and liabilities as provided by this Constitution and by or under an Act of Parliament. (2) A person is disqualified from being nominated as a candidate for election as President if that person –

(a) is a public officer, or is holding or acting in any State or other public office, including the following:

(i) the Defence Force and national security agencies;
(ii) the public service;
(iii) a commission;
(iv) a statutory body or company in which the Government has a controlling interest; or (v) any other post or office specified by or under an Act of Parliament;

(b) is a judge or judicial officer; or

(c) was removed from public office on grounds of gross misconduct.

(3) A person may be nominated as a candidate for election as President, if that person qualifies or is not disqualified under clauses (1) and (2), respectively, and-
(a) has paid the election fee specified by or under an Act of Parliament on, or before, the date fixed for the delivery of nomination papers; and
(b) is supported by not less than one hundred registered voters from each Province.


Article 107 Vice-President, election to office and swearing in

107. (1) There shall be a Vice-President for the Republic who shall be elected as a running mate to a presidential candidate.

(2) The qualifications and the disqualifications applying to a presidential candidate shall apply to the person selected by the presidential candidate as a running mate.

(3) An election to the office of Vice-President shall be conducted at the same time as that of an election to the office of President so that a vote cast for a presidential candidate is a vote cast for the vice-presidential candidate, and if the presidential candidate is elected, the vice-presidential candidate is also elected.

(4) A Vice-President elect shall be sworn into office by the Chief Justice and shall assume office on the same day that the President-elect assumes office.

(5) Where a vacancy occurs in the office of Vice-President through death, resignation or removal from office on the same grounds and procedures as apply to the President, the President shall appoint another person to be Vice-President and the National Assembly shall, by a resolution supported by the votes of not less than two-thirds of the Members of Parliament, approve the appointment of the Vice-President who shall serve for the unexpired term of office. (6) The Vice-President shall not hold any other office of profit or which pays emoluments.

(7) The emoluments of the Vice-President shall be as determined by the Emoluments Commission and specified in an Act of Parliament, except that a person who served as Vice-President for part of a term shall be paid emoluments on a pro rata basis.

(8) The emoluments of the Vice-President shall be a charge on the Consolidated Fund.


Functions of Vice President

108. (1) Subject to the other provisions of this Constitution, in addition to the functions of the Vice-President specified in this Constitution or under any other law, the Vice-President shall –

(a)  perform the functions that are assigned to the Vice-President by the President;

(b) perform the executive functions when the President is unable to carry out the executive functions as provided under this Constitution;

(c) assume the office of President when the President dies or is unable to be sworn 84
into office as provided in this Constitution; or

(d) perform the executive functions as President where the President is removed or impeached from office under Articles 104 and 105, respectively.”

(2) The Vice-President shall only attend the sittings of the National Assembly where it is necessary for the performance of a particular function specified under this Constitution or any other law, or when required to do so by the Speaker, and the Vice-President shall, while in attendance in the National Assembly, take part in the proceedings of the National Assembly, but shall have no vote.
           
Article 120 Ministers

120. (1) The President shall appoint not more than twenty-one persons as Ministers who are qualified to be nominated as Members of Parliament.

(2) The President shall appoint Ministers from persons who are not Members of Parliament.

(3) A Minister shall be responsible, under the direction of the President, for the business of the Government, including the administration of a Ministry and other State institutions as assigned by the President.

(4) The office of Minister shall become vacant –
(a) if the holder of the office is removed from office by the President;
(b) if the holder of the office resigns or dies; or
(c) upon assumption by any other person of the office of President.

(5) The emoluments of a Minister shall be as determined by the Emoluments Commission and specified by an Act of Parliament.

(6) The emoluments of a Minister shall be a charge on the Consolidated Fund.

(7) A Minister shall only attend the sittings of the National Assembly where it is necessary for the performance of a particular function specified under this Constitution or any other law or when required to do so by the Speaker, and the Minister shall, while in attendance in the National Assembly, take part in the proceedings of the National Assembly but shall have no vote.


PART VIII
LEGISLATURE
Legislative Function

Article 137 Qualifications for Members of Parliament

137. (1) Subject to clause (3), a person shall be eligible to be nominated and to be listed on a party’s list for a multi-member constituency, if that person –
Qualifications and disqualifications of Members of Parliament

(a) is a citizen;

(b) is not less than twenty-one years;

(c) is registered as a voter;

(d) has obtained, as a minimum academic qualification, a grade twelve certificate of education or its equivalent;

(e) is an independent candidate or a member of the political party submitting the party list and has consented, in writing, to appear on the party list; and

(f) declares that person’s assets and liabilities as provided under this Constitution and by or under an Act of Parliament.

(2) Notwithstanding Article 135(3), a person who is validly nominated as a candidate in an election to the office of President may be listed as candidate number one on the party’s list for a multi-member constituency, but such person shall not take up a seat in the National Assembly if the person is elected as President.

(3) A person shall be disqualified from being nominated and listed on a party’s list for a multi-member constituency, to be the party’s representative in the National Assembly, if that person – (a) is nominated as a candidate for election as a councillor;
(b) is a public officer, or is holding or acting in any other public office including the following:
(i) the Defence Force and national security agencies;
(ii) the public service;
(iii) a commission;
(iv) a statutory body or a company in which the national Government or local government has a controlling interest; or
(v) any other post or office specified by or under an Act of Parliament;

(c) is a judge or judicial officer;

(d) has a mental disability that would make the person incapable of performing the legislative function;

(e) is an undischarged bankrupt;

(f) is serving a sentence of imprisonment for an offence under any law;
(g) has, in the immediate preceding five years, served a term of imprisonment of at least three years; or

(h) has been removed from public office on grounds of gross misconduct.

(4) In this Article, a reference to a sentence of imprisonment shall not include a sentence of imprisonment the execution of which is suspended or a sentence of imprisonment in default of payment of a fine.


Article 160 Right to petition and make comments 

160. (1) A citizen has a right to petition Parliament to enact, amend or repeal any legislation.

(2) A citizen may make comments on any deliberation, statement and decision of the National Assembly.

(3) Parliament shall enact legislation to regulate the manner of petitioning and commenting referred to in this Article.


Article 161 Public access and participation 

161. (1) The National Assembly shall –

(a) facilitate public involvement in the legislative and other processes; and

(b) conduct its business in an open manner and hold its sittings and those of its committees in public.

(2) The National Assembly or any of its committees shall not exclude the public or any public or private media from any of its sittings unless, in exceptional circumstances, the Speaker determines that there are justifiable reasons for doing so.